This is the transcript of my Interview with Moafuk Mohammed today at the Marriot Hotel in Amman. His family has an apartment here that they use sometimes. He is visiting Amman while in transit to London for business. Hopefully there will be a video posted soon of some of the interview. For now, here is the rough transcript.
AIB: What would you like to tell the Americans?
MM: The main source of outrage among the Arabs against America is Americaís ill treatment of the Arab-Israeli cause. If America is willing to establish peace, it has to be fair, it has to insist on a Palestinian State, a viable State, so that Palestinians and Arabs can find common language with America and Americans.
AIB: What is the reason for the American invasion?
MM: The Reasons behind the war against Iraq, there are two reasons. One is America’s growing imports of oil, because Iraq has the 2nd largest oil reservoir. There are no other alternatives, but the Middle East, and Iraq is in the core of that. The other reason is protection for Israel. Protection for Israel. These are the 2 reasons that prompted the American administration to wage the war. But it coincided with the aim of the Iraqi parties who will work against Saddam, the opponents of Saddam. Iraqis were willing to get rid of the Dictatorship of Saddam, so the Iraqis from one side and the Americans on the other, joined forces to topple, oust, Saddam from office.
AIB: What was Iraq like, before the most recent war?
MM: Iraq waged war against Iran, for 8 years, during the 8 years the whole country was demolished, the infrastructure, the industry, so on so forth, 8 years later, the way was ended, but soon after, we invaded Kuwait, and that was the finale, the final. When the alliance of course, drove the Iraqis from Kuwait, and then the whole country infrastructure was devastated, after that, we had the embargo and the sanctions, the UN Sanctions have adverse impact on Iraqis, on the people, not on the government, not on Saddam, the people suffered, of hunger, of disease, of illiteracy, 8 years of sanctions managed to demolish the entire country.
AIB: What is your opinion of Saddam Hussein?
MM: Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, a dictator, who ruined the country. Saddam Hussein, I donít have enough words to tell you what Saddam was. I have every reason to suggest that the majority of Iraqis were against him. And this is why it was easy for the Americans to and the allied forces, it was easy for them to invade Iraq and of course to occupy the entire nation, the whole country, Baghdad could not resist for more than five hours, and the American tanks reached the presidential palace.
AIB: Could it be good when the Americans came, or was it always going to go very bad?
MM: The Americans have committed fatal mistakes, to start with, the dismantling of the Iraqi army, and the, and the other security forces. Which left the entire country open for looters, criminals; the borders were wide open for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. So believe you me, the Americans have committed fatal mistakes.
AIB: What is the situation in Iraq?
MM: Total chaos. The government is not there. Very weak. Unsafe. Security is not there, and you can tell from the number of car bombs everyday, and the death toll everyday, everyday we have car bombs we have explosives, and the death toll is now around 100 person every day, civilian, children, women, elderly people, indiscriminate war, against the people. Of course and we have looting and you have criminals, kidnapping, you name it.
AIB: What can force the Americans to leave?
MM: I donít think there is anything that will force the Americans to withdraw, to pullback. There are, there is a view that it would be even worse if the Americans pull back, before installing a strong government to protect the country. That would be another mistake and a wrong signal for the terrorists. Unless we have a constitution and a strong government, intelligence forces, security, and an army who can defend the country, that will be another fatal mistake. Believe you me.
AIB: Do you think its possible that the constitution can be good?
MM: I have my reservations on the constitution, but, we donít have, but we have no alternative but to say yes, otherwise, the interim period will be, prolonged for another two years. What we need now is stability, is to establish security, to establish peace. If we say no, and the constitution was refused by the people, then we will have another couple of years of anarchy, of chaos, which I think we are fed up with, we, we need to see security, peace, so that we can go to our work, to our schools, to our hospitals, to lead our normal life. We are sick; we are fed up with this chaos.
AIB: Do you think civil war is inevitable?
MM: No. I think Iraqis, Sunni and Shiía are very much aware of the danger of civil war; we have lived together for hundreds and hundreds of years. In peace and harmony, of course there are those who are working, who are banking on a civil war, but I am sure that will not happen.
AIB: How can we ensure this?
MM: Nowadays we have conferences and meetings between the two sides, the Sunni and Shiía to work out a national declaration which concerns unity and harmony amongst the two sects.
AIB: Do you think it could be said that there is a legitimate resistance as well as an insurgency?
MM: Resistance is legitimate. But, definitely, terrorism is not. However, there are those who believe that we can work out with Americans on a schedule, to pull back, so we need not resort to guns, to force the Americans, if we can work out a sort of timetable to get the Americans to pull back, why resort to war?
AIB: Do you think this is possible?
MM: Yes, I think this is possible. Because, at the end of the day, the Americans have to pull back, have to go home.
AIB: Can you describe how it is possible to live in Baghdad?
MM: It is very dangerous every day. It is very dangerous; it is very risky to go around. I donít go around. It is very risky. Indeed it is. But not only of the insurgency, but of ordinary criminals, I may get kidnapped. Here, now, in Amman, everywhere in the world there are Iraqis who deserted their country, of fear of kidnapping, of killing. It is very risky.
AIB: How do you think that Iraq can convince these people to come back?
MM: Unless security is re-established, then it would be very difficult to convince anyone of those who left the country, for this particular reason, to go back. Why would they come back? Without these security being restored?
AIB: Could you describe for people in the United States, elsewhere in the world, the Occupation, can you describe it? What it means?
MM: Well, these are different points of view. Let me tell you one thing. It is almost unanimous that Americans did a very bad job. They did not do their homework before coming to Iraq. They thought that they will be welcomed by Iraqis with flowers. Of course this did not happen. Nobody on earth would accept what you call it, an Occupation. People have the right to resist Occupation. On top of that, there are some American soldiers or servicemen, who are so bad, in treating the people so there is a sort of discontent, with American behavior.
AIB: Other Iraqis have told me that the various parties, because they run their own security forces, that they work for their own interests. Do you think it is possible for them to come together?
MM: No. No. Very difficult, every party has its own interests and viewpoints and perception of how to run the country. No. It would be a miracle if all those parties come together and to unite and join forces. No. Very difficult.
AIB: So how can we ever expect there to be a strong government in Iraq?
MM: Yes. Election, and polls, you know, we expect to have another election early next year. And from now, of course, parties are making alliances and this sort of thing among them. WE have to resort to, what you call it, the ballot box. What else?
AIB: In a country that is now majority Shiía do you think it is possible? After so many years of oppression, how is it possible to reconcile?
MM: We have to reconcile. Iraq is not a country to be run by one sect or one ethnic group, by Arabs alone, or Kurds, Sunni or Shiía alone. We have to come to some sort of reconciliation; we have to learn how to live together, after all that. And I believe the majority of Iraqis are very much aware of that, we have to live in peace. There are of course some differences, but the only way to continue is to reconcile.
AIB: What can be done? How can this reconciliation happen?
MM: The first step is to amend the constitution. This is the first step, not to enforce a constitution which is resented by the Arabs by Arab World and the Sunnis. And I can see no reason why we should not do that. That constitution which was drafted and accepted by the National Assembly, we need to amend that, we need to make some changes, to appease, to please the rest of them, the people. If we manage to do that, if we can accomplish that, then this is the first step.
AIB: Do you think this has to happen in the next two weeks?
MM: Very unlikely. Very Unlikely.
AIB: Can you describe a little more about an average day in Iraq?
MM: An average day. I leave for work at 7:30 from where I live; I get to my office at 8. We have power cuts every now and then, and when it is summer, then you are left with just unbearable heat, you have power cuts you have your computers cut off, your life is very difficult. And on your way back, you may face an American convoy and insurgents or a car bomb may target this convoy, and you get, and you lose your life, for no reason. This is a daily experience. When you leave your house, youíre not certain that youíre coming back to your family because you may get trapped, any time. On your way back and forth, this is our life.
AIB: Have you known any people whoíve been hurt or killed?
MM: Yes. Yes. In fact a cousin of mine, who was a doctor, a heart specialist, was killed by an American. For no reason. He was ordered to stop, at the checkpoint, couldnít recognize the sign, and he was immediately shot dead. A young man, in his early forties, very clever, we lost him for no reason. And of course there are tens if not hundreds of such stupid accidents. Oh my goodness. There are so many people killed who are killed by Americans, for no reason.
AIB: Has there been any move at all by the Americans to try to do anything?
MM: I donít think so. I donít think so. They have excuses for every bad accident of the sort. They simply say it was self-defense, when the poor guy was unarmed.
AIB: What do you think that means that the Americans, the international community stands by and does nothing, when they say anything we have to do for protection it is ok?
MM: This is a sort of resentment among Iraqis. -break-
Of course this is a sort of resentment among Iraqis. They have to find a way not to kill innocent people. They have to find, but we know of course, American servicemen are very nervous and they fear terrorists, fear insurgents, and many times they lose control. They are out of control. At the end of the day we have innocent people get killed for no reason. And when ever we say that, we tell the Americans to do something about that, what we receive is only apologies, for that was not intended, that sort of thing. But how will we convince their families, what have they done to get killed?
AIB: Do you see parallels with Israel with this situation?
MM: Absolutely. Indeed, and you very you always come across this sort of-what do you call it? When people describe what is happening in Iraq with what is happening in Palestine at the hands of the Israelis? Analogy!
AIB: Do you expect that there will be more wars like this in the Middle East?
MM: Well, if we, if we follow the neo-conservative thinking, then we expect the next target will be Syria, and Iran, perhaps. If the neo-conservative sort of thinking is to be followed, by the American administration. Now of course Syria is under heavy attack of pressure with an end to alienate Syria. There are reasons to suggest that terrorists have their training camps in Syria, and there are former Baathists who are based in Syria and finance the terrorists and insurgents. There may well be some exaggeration of that. But there are some truth to that, definitely, and this is why it may well, may well end in-I donít know whether it is in the interests of Americans to have a strong government in Syria or a weak one.
AIB: What can the International Community or even American citizens do, to help ensure that this wonít happen?
MM: I cannot answer this question. But certainly Americans are very much aware of the risk in involving in another war, in Syria or Iran, and believe you me; Iran would not be an easy target. You know, due to the country is vast country with population of I donít know, 80 million, inhabitants or persons, it wonít be easy. Believe you me. And you have experienced that under Carter, when Carter attempted to free the American embassyís hostages. It was a catastrophe. Do you know about that?
AIB: Is there anything you would like to tell Americans or other people about Iraq, about what your hope for Iraq is?
MM: Iraqis are very keen to regain their country, to restore peace, to restore security. So that we can rebuild our country that was ruined by thirty-five years under Saddam and then under the American Occupation. And we are endowed to do that, Iraq is endowed with all resources, work force, and educated people we are entitled to have a better life.